A couple of nights ago, some friends of my wife threw a lovely shower for her, and were kind enough to invite me and the kids, too. These women are not only friends, but co-workers in the Labor and Delivery unit of a local hospital. Which is a place where heat and pressure weld folks together, a place where dangers are understood intuitively, and a ‘thin place’ where heaven seems to touch earth. In this cadre, it’s not unusual to name your children after a friend– our Lucia had ‘Anna’ added to her name to honor the woman who saved her life. They’ve been through a lot together, and can still laugh together and love on each other’s kids. And share the best lemon cake that’s ever been made.
They exist in the corners of my memory as people who have carried us through some harrowing experiences. Which is to say that I don’t always remember their faces or names, but I know them in a deeper way, somehow. And honestly, it’s not a group that I naturally connect with, whose casual conversation is peppered with ominous acronyms, everyday tales of life and death, and anecdotes about prolapsed uteruses (“It looks really painful, I’ll tell you that!”, she exclaimed as I was trying to eat some bean dip at the next table).
So though I can feel like an outsider in this group, I’m grateful for them. For they are much more than givers of gifts and well-wishers for the upcoming birth. They are the very people who will broker that birth, who will overcome whatever dangers present themselves, who will pull us through the uncertainties, and who will celebrate and stand with us, no matter the outcome. It’s nice to know the people who have your back.